Local briefs – April 23

A Red Deer man will have two trials after pleading not guilty to several charges following a standoff with police in March.

Two trials over standoff charges

A Red Deer man will have two trials after pleading not guilty to several charges following a standoff with police in March.

Gene Levasseur, 37, will first be tried on Dec. 14 on six charges, including forcible confinement, two counts of assault, and one count each of strangling or choking, assault causing bodily harm and uttering threats. He will then stand trial three days later on a single count of unlawful confinement, Red Deer provincial court decided on Wednesday.

Levasseur, who remains in custody because he hasn’t met bail conditions of either $4,000 cash or an $8,000 surety, was charged on March 18 following the lengthy standoff with RCMP at a residence on the South Hill across from a school.

Police were called to a townhouse at 3508 48th Ave. just before 7 a.m. after receiving a report of a possible domestic dispute.

RCMP said a woman had fled the scene safely but a man remained inside. It was feared he had a gun.

Police also allege that the female owner of the home was kept against her will during the standoff.

Gunshots, standoff result in charges

Multiple gunshots and a standoff with police have led to charges against five teens and one adult arrested at O’Chiese First Nation, north of Rocky Mountain House.

Sgt. Chris Matechuk from the Rocky RCMP detachment said 16 people had been taken into custody after reports that someone had fired through the window of a home, narrowly missing a youth inside, at about 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Suspects fled to another house and additional shots were fired as one of the suspects left the second house. Additional police were called in to assist Rocky members, including the police dog service and the emergency response team.

The only adult charged is Travis Henry Sunchild of Rocky Mountain House. He faces four weapons offences, including shooting a dog without lawful cause, careless use of a firearm, possession of a firearm for a purpose dangerous to public peace and possession of a firearm obtained through the commission of a criminal offence.

The five teens face a total of seven weapons-related charges. Their names cannot be released under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Court appearances for the youths are set for Red Deer youth court on Thursday and for Rocky on May 25. Sunchild is to make his next appearance in Rocky Mountain House provincial court on Wednesday.

Frying on stove results in blaze

A fried potato dinner that went awry triggered a $10,000 apartment fire near downtown Red Deer on Tuesday.

Red Deer Emergency Services was called to an apartment block at 4725 55th St. about 6 p.m. after a report of a kitchen fire.

The apartment tenant had managed to snuff out the flames with baking soda by the time fire crews arrived, said fire investigator Joe Towers.

The resident had been cooking fried potatoes in a pan on the stove and when finished moved the pan to another burner and thought he had shut the stove off. However, the burner had mistakenly been left on high and the radiant heat ignited the pan on the neighbouring burner.

The fire was soon put out, but the fridge, stove and cabinets were badly damaged. The resident found a place to stay at a local hotel.

No one was injured in the fire.

Emergency Services recommends that residents have a dry chemical fire extinguisher in their homes to deal with emergencies.

Domestic violence calls decline

Domestic violence calls, which had jumped dramatically for the first two weeks of April, fell back to average levels in the week ending April 19, Red Deer city RCMP crime statistics indicate.

Police were called to 27 reports of domestic violence compared with 74 calls the previous week and 76 the week before that. The average was 35.

Total calls for police service dropped almost 100 to 715 last week while assaults also fell 13 to 22.

Thefts dipped to 63 from 79 while three robberies were reported, compared with four the previous week. Break-ins and automobile thefts remained steady at 13 and 11 respectively.

Other statistics included:

• 29 bylaw infractions

• seven drug investigations

• six frauds

• 55 mischief

• 37 suspicious persons, vehicles or activities

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